England may have failed to conquer Australia in three attempts before the World Cup, but head coach Peter Moores is full of confidence for the future of his side.
The tourists stumbled in Sunday’s Tri-Series title, defeated by the hosts by a comprehensive 112- run margin, but Moores does not see the first of three months in Australia and New Zealand as time wasted.
It is Australia, yet again, who await in the tournament curtain-raiser on February 14, but Moores is upbeat about his side’s prospects on the big stage.
Two wins over reigning champions India offer plenty of positives and, in both Hobart and Perth, England established dominant positions against Australia only to let them slide.
“This team’s got something about it,” concluded an upbeat Moores ahead of a four-day break for the side before training resumes in Sydney.
“We’re in a much stronger position now than we were when we came to Australia.
“It’s an exciting group of players to work with. I watch them play, train, hear them talking and there’s a lot of things in that group that feels right.
“The feeling I get is that we’re improving quickly which is really important because we’ve got to keep that improvement going through the World Cup.
“To win it we’ve got to keep getting better the whole way through. We’ve a group of players here who are very focused – as they should be – and they’re gaining some belief.”
A year or so ago, England’s first-choice one-day side would have featured a number of additional senior men such as Kevin Pietersen, Graeme Swann, Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott.
But Moores believes that what the current team lacks in international runs scored or wickets taken, it makes up for in enthusiasm and adaptability. As a coach, it is clear he thrives among a group who have yet to become jaded by England’s occasionally crushing schedule.
“We’ll take something from the performances here because we’ll sit and talk openly and honestly about what happened. That’s the beauty of working with younger players, they’re very open to changing things,” he said.
It’s perhaps a sign of the changing times, but David Richardson, CEO of the International Cricket Council (ICC), believes that delivering a secure and corruption-free cricket World Cup will be their greatest challenge over the next two months.
The 2015 edition of ICC’s premier one-day international tournament takes place in Australia and New Zealand from February 14, with the final of the 14-team quadrennial event taking place on March 29 in Melbourne.
While Richardson is not worried about the commercial success of the tournament – most of the big matches have been sold out, including the India-Pakistan clash in Adelaide on February 15, the tickets for which were gone within the first 20 minutes – it is security and the ugly spectre of match-fixing that is giving him the hibbie-jibbies.
Richardson said this was the first World Cup in which security has been the biggest expense for the ICC.
“Security… I suppose it is reflective of the global situation we are in. That has been a big challenge for us. The spend on security in this World Cup is more than ever before,” said the former South African wicketkeeper during an interaction with
select media at the ICC headquarters situated in the Dubai Sports City yesterday.
“Previously, the cost of travel and accommodation would exceed the security projects, but now it is the other way round. It is the biggest expense for the World Cup, apart from the prize money.
“It has been a challenge, but I think we are very well placed so there is not necessarily a threat to the tournament itself, but obviously we have to be aware of the global situation.
“The other factor of course is match-fixing and spot-fixing. Any incident along those lines will be a disaster for the event.
“However, I think the level of preparedness for this event is again the best we have ever been.”
Richardson is confident there will be no match-fixing at the World Cup, not only because of the extensive work done by the Anti Corruption Unit (ACU), cooperation with the local police authorities and also because the players today are much more educated in various aspects of corruption, and are reporting approaches.
“The ACU have been working for the last two-three years on putting in place memorandums of understandings with the New Zealand police and with the Australian police to make sure they make it very, very difficult for any of these fellows travelling around the world who are trying to influence matches,” added Richardson.
“Our intelligence has improved tremendously. Going back to the last World Cup, we had no real idea of who those fixers were and how they operated. Now, the data base of these guys is much more detailed.
“When we go Down Under, that information of more than a hundred names will be given to the department of immigration and police and any attempt by these guys to get close to the tournaments will be hopefully prevented.
“There are two ACU officials on duty at each venue and they not only watch the ground, but they will also watch the hotels and all that, but as I said, the pre-tournament intelligence is at such a level where we can brief the players beforehand.
“Added to that is the education programme that has been stepped up for the players.
“They get regular sessions. Probably, it is quite boring for them, but the people who fix matches are always trying new tactics and we keep on updating the players on those kinds of things.
“The number of approaches, the number of reports that we are getting from players, shows that the players have got this very much in the forefront of their minds and they are taking the responsibility seriously,” he added.
Hosts England were just a step away to win the 1979 World Cup and only had West standing Indies between them and the podium.
In the final, things started according to the hopes of home fans as West Indies lost their opening duo of Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes early while Alvin Kallicharan and skipper Clive Lloyd also perished without doing significant damage.
But England received a dent on their hopes when Sir Vivian Richards scored an unbeaten century to take his team to a respectable total of 286 for nine in 60 overs.
Viv struck 11 boundaries and three sixes in his 157-ball bravado and was involved in a 239-run fifth-wicket stand with Collis King, who made a 66-ball 85 studded with three sixes and 10 strikes to the fence.
The damage had already been because the target of 287 was too much against the deadly bowling attack of Michael Holding, Joel Garner, Andy Roberts and company.
England got all out for 194 with nine overs left as Garner — the big bird — picking up a five-wicket haul.
Interestingly, England lost lost their last eight wickets for just 11 runs as they fall from 183 for two to 194 all out.
Viv made the first century in a World Cup final and took the game away from England because had he got out without hitting his 11 boundaries and three sixes, England would have cruised to a world cup title at Lord's.
SPORT360's CRICKET WORLD CUP COUNTDOWN
– 10 days to go: Chris Old's record still new
– 11 days to go: Viv Richards wins it for West Indies
– 12 days to go: The support from outside the rope
– 13 days to go: O'Brien storm blows England away
– 14 days to go: Arvinda de Silva in world of his own
– 15 days to go: Australia bamboozle the Namibians
– 16 days to go: New format catches out India, Pakistan
– 17 days to go: Madan Lal’s 17 wickets help India to triumph
– 18 days to go: Dennis delight at first World Cup century
– 19 days to go: Economical Imran Khan of Pakistan
– 20 days to go: Bichel cleans up against England
– 21 days to go: Sachin Tendulkar the runs machine
– 22 days to go: The unwanted record of Nathan Astle
– 23 days to go: Nehra rattles England in South Africa
– 24 days to go: The great Kapil Dev's strike rate for India
– 25 days to go: Australia's Invincibles dominate for eight
– 26 days to go: Glenn McGrath's wicket-taking exploits
– 27 days to go: Zaheer Khan's striking ability
– 28 days to go: Herschelle Gibbs just loves sixes
– 29 days to go: Australia's 29-ball haul destroys India